3 Great Hints about Making a Wooden Shingles Roof

Every house has a roof. It should be waterproof, durable and must serve long. Moreover, if it looks nice, your house will be remarkable. Having unique roofing amongst standard roofs helps you to be noticed and gives another reason to be proud of yourself. Roof made of wooden shakes (or shingles) will help you in reaching this goal!

The tradition of covering houses with sliced pieces of wood came from Chili, from a group of islands called Chiloe. Spanish colonists built churches and houses in their traditional style. But they could not supply the needed quantity of clay tiles for roofs. Instead they used the traditional Chilean roofing material – thin wooden shingles, forming a kind of fish scales, which was durable. It lasted long enough and was easy to construct and repair – and it looked awesome!

wooden shingles
Wooden Shingles

This type of roofing became very popular in wooded areas and was used in some regions of Scandinavian countries up to late 1950s. Nowadays it becomes more and more popular again because of its outstanding look, low price and ease of installation and maintenance.

wooden shingles scheme
Wooden shingles scheme

How Is Wooden Shingles Roof Made?

Shingles are made of straight grained timber like pine or cedar. Red cedar is the main timber for shingles, produced in the US. Shake is usually 3/8 to 5/8 inch thick, 24, 32 or 48 inches long and 4-8 inches wide. The only instruments you need to produce it are:

  • saw (chainsaw or circular saw),
  • sledgehammer,
  • axe,
  • wedge
  • and mallet.

Hint 1. Materials

If you live in densely wooded areas of the United States, you will not lack raw materials. Otherwise, you can purchase wooden blocks at your local DIY-store. The easiest way of obtaining the material is buying a license for cutting some wood in a forest that costs only $3-$4 from your city hall. Or you may try taking some unused logs after forest logging crews finish their job. They usually do not care about the mess they leave behind and allow you to take unneeded logs.

By the way, modern technology allows producing shingles from rubber of used car tires. They look like wooden, but will never crack, rot, curl, take on moisture or discolor.

Hint 2. Production

Wooden log is being sawn into chunks of required length with a chainsaw and cleaned of remaining branches with an axe. Then you should stand it on one of the edges vertically, just the way it used to grow. Tap a line in the middle of the chuck diameter with a wedge and a hammer and split it in two halves. Chop away bark and slice away the triangular edges with an axe to get a wooden parallelepiped. Take extreme caution to avoid injuries of hands or legs!
Afterwards you have two options. Either you secure the block with clips on your workbench and saw it into ready shingles one by one or use your axe to chop it into pieces. Remember that the longest dimension of the shingle must follow the grain direction in order to maintain it durable and avoid breaking. Find some dead tree in a forest and practise on it until you learn how to split wooden blocks into shakes of nearly equal thickness. Then you can start working on your future roofing material.

Hint 3. Installation

Ready shingles may be polished and covered with varnish or left unpolished to be more authentic. You can nail them upon a carcass to form a fish scale on your roof. Covering shingles with polish before installation is recommended to prolong their lifetime. They will resist cold and heat, snow and rain; your roof will look adorable and become only classier with time.

This is one of the cheapest, yet the most awesome looking types of roofing. Make your wooden shingles roof yourself, and you will become a very popular person in your neighborhood. Creation of your roof will not only save your money and improve your skills, it will give you unforgettable memories and experience and provide you with awesome roofing for your house. Try to do it yourself – you will like both the process and the result!


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